Matters of Life & Beth – Shoe Night

Beth Daigle on January 1st, 2015

Date night or bowling night or GNO (girls night out). Whatever you dub it or decide to do, we all should have reasons to get off the couch. This is especially true right now, during the cold winter months, when holing up in the house, wrapped in a blanket, seems like a preferable option.

Breaking up your usual routine always sounds like a good idea, but motivating yourself to get out of the house when it’s 10 degrees outside is easier said than done. Rather than allow one humdrum day after another to pass you by, winter is as good a time as any to mix it up and do something out of the ordinary. Remember, you only live once.

Illustration by Ken Bonin.

Illustration by Ken Bonin.

My rationale for getting out of the winter rut might not sound usual or even sensible, but shoes are my inspiration. Over the years, I’ve developed a small shoe fetish. And while my special-occasion, high-heeled investments look pretty on display in the closet, it occurred to me that I really should put them to better use. Thus, “Shoe Night” was born. I committed to my husband and friends that I would coordinate evenings out where we’d have the increasingly rare opportunity to dress up.

High heels in the middle of winter probably seem counterintuitive, but I no longer wanted to be deterred by the snow and ice. We are in New England after all, so the wait for ideal weather might be much longer than we’d like.

Keeping the holiday spirit alive was another motive. I always feel a bit deflated in January, after all the festive parties and dressy occasions have come and gone. So, extending the holiday high with a few contrived “events” became a fun mission as I attempted to determine where I might fulfill my desire to dress to the nines.

At first, there didn’t seem to be many places nearby where jazzing up my wardrobe felt appropriate (in my circle, jeans and a nice top with flats, boots or wedges is about as fancy as it gets), so the obvious temptation was to plan a night out in Boston. But after a little poking around, I was able to turn up a few nice local options. Before I knew it, we were on the road to a lovely restaurant where sweatshirts and sneakers are not suitable attire.

Samuel’s at the Andover Inn (on the campus of Phillips Academy in Andover) was the destination on our first Shoe Night. My strappy, 4-inch heels fit right in. Wearing my shoes, paired with a nice pair of pants and a fun top, I didn’t feel overdressed, and received no odd looks. I was comfortable and adorning my finest footwear, both at the same time.

I feel so good about this new approach to dining out that I’m really looking forward to planning our next evening.

I think future trips will include the Left Bank Restaurant at Stonehedge Inn & Spa in Tyngsborough and L’andana in Burlington, a restaurant that touts “city dining in the suburbs.” These spots are farther away than we would normally venture, but for the sake of my unworn shoes (and what I’ve heard are wonderful wine selections), I’m sure they will be worth the ride.

It’s not always easy to break old habits, but getting out of your routine can be an energizing step in a refreshing direction, whether you’re dressing up when you normally wouldn’t or discovering some other exciting adventure.

Beth Daigle is the editor of Merrimack Valley Home magazine and is currently working on her first book. Visit her new blog at


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